Best USA women's soccer players: The USWNT stars to watch at 2023 World Cup | Sporting News (2024)

The United States women are looking to become the first-ever team to win three World Cup titles in a row as they contest the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.

As the No. 1 ranked team in the world by FIFA rankings entering the tournament, and as two-time defending champions, they are understandable favorites to win the tournament again. Yet it won't be easy, and there are many talented teams who will challenge hard and push for a title of their own.

A few injuries have thinned the USWNT squad some, placing a greater importance on the most vital players that Vlatko Andonovski can call upon.

The Sporting News lists the most critical players at the World Cup for the United States. Without these five players full health and in their best form, there's little chance of defending their crown.

MORE: Full FIFA Women's World Cup schedule 2023

Best USWNT players at 2023 Women's World Cup

Unfortunately, this list is significantly affected by injuries.The USA women's soccer national team is missing two of its most important players at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup after star attacker Catarina Macario officially bowed out, and influential winger Mallory Swanson suffered a serious injury that many expect will force her to sit out.

Swanson would absolutely have been on this list, maybe even atop it at the number one spot, while Macario may have cracked the rankings as well depending on if she had put together any kind of club form. Instead, they are both sitting out, placing significant importance on the performance of the other talented individuals along the attacking front.

5. Crystal Dunn (FB/MF, 30 years old)

Now fully back to fitness after her pregnancy layoff, Crystal Dunn is primed to play a big role for the United States, but the big question is where?

Dunn plays midfield for her club team Portland Thorns, but at the U.S. national team level she is often slotted in at full-back due to a lack of depth at that position. For years, Dunn has been open about the fact that she much prefers to play in midfield or on the wing in a forward role, but that she's accepted her job at the U.S. national team level as a professional.

In the run-up to the World Cup, there has been an increase in noise for Dunn to move into midfield, but wherever she plays, she will be an exceptionally vital player to this side.

4. Lindsey Horan (MF, 29 years old)

Through all the chopping and changing in the USWNT midfield over the last World Cup cycle, Lindsey Horan continually maintained her place, and there's a reason why. Progression is the name of the game for the 29-year-old PSG star, excelling in every phase of the game.

She can pass at the highest level, delivering a vertical ball for forwards to feast upon, and she can carry the ball forward herself on the dribble, beating opponents who step to her in the middle of the field. She also is exceptional at trailing an attacking move once she has distributed the ball, cropping up in the penalty area to either fill space left by defenders marking forwards or pounce on a rebound.

With the absence of Catarina Macario, Horan's ability to build the attacking possession forward and start dangerous moves both in transition and in the half-court will be of critical importance, and she remains one of the most vital pieces of this team.

3. Alex Morgan (FW, 33 years old)

While she's not the goal hawk she maybe used to be, Alex Morgan's presence on this roster is for far more than just veteran know-how. Thanks to the absence of Macario and Swanson, Morgan will be a likely starter throughout the World Cup, unless Vlatko Andonovski decides to play Sophia Smith up front.

Regardless, Morgan is a dominant force, and one of the brightest stars in the women's game. Her upbeat attitude combined with top leadership skills and a relentless drive for success has made her a key figure in the sport globally.

Morgan has been forced to refine her game a bit as the goals begin to slow, and she has become a force with her hold-up play, bringing the electric U.S. wingers into dangerous positions as she involves herself in the buildup even more than in the past. It's a key part of Andonovski's team makeup, and will be essential at the World Cup.

The jersey that gave us redemption

— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) July 20, 2023

2. Sophia Smith (FW, 22 years old)

With Macario and Swanson out of the picture, all eyes will be on Sophia Smith to provide the bulk of the attacking danger.

Smith, still just 22 years old, can quite simply ball with the best of them. She has yet to truly return to her best form since coming back from injury in late April, but she is still a lightning rod in the attacking third. Smith isn't afraid to shoot from anywhere, but she also creates actions and chances for her teammates at a high volume.

She will now play an enormous role at the 2023 Women's World Cup, hoping to profit off Morgan's excellent hold-up play and fill spaces that Morgan vacates by drawing defenders her way. If Smith can get in form Down Under, the United States has its best chance to get a third straight FIFA title.

MORE: USA vs Vietnam prediction, odds, betting tips for World Cup fixture

1. Rose Lavelle (MF, 28 years old)

Nobody is more important to this USWNT roster than midfielder Rose Lavelle, which made her current knee injury incredibly worrying, before her subsequent recovery.

Lavelle won the Bronze Ball at the 2019 Women's World Cup, with Megan Rapinoe winning the Golden Ball, but in truth it was Lavelle who probably should have been handed the top award. She was the best player at the tournament, and was unplayable in midfield as the U.S. cruised to a dominant victory.

Still just 28 years old, Lavelle is easily one of the most underrated players in the world, if notthemost underrated. USWNT fans often overlook her for the more flashy stars, but her ball carrying and passing abilities are unquestionably the most critical skills of any player on this team.

Lavelle injured her knee in an April 8 friendly against the Republic of Ireland, and while it was thought to be minor at the time, it's kept her out of action for a long time. She reportedly suffered a "setback" in her recovery, but has regained fitness in time for the USA's World Cup opener against Vietnam.

Best USA women's soccer players: The USWNT stars to watch at 2023 World Cup | Sporting News (2024)


Best USA women's soccer players: The USWNT stars to watch at 2023 World Cup | Sporting News? ›

11, 2024) – In a year in which she was one of the USA's best players at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and was the National Women's Soccer League Defender of the Year, helping San Diego Wave FC win the NWSL Shield as regular season champions, defender Naomi Girma has been voted the 2023 U.S. Soccer Female Player of ...

Who is the best US female soccer player 2023? ›

11, 2024) – In a year in which she was one of the USA's best players at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and was the National Women's Soccer League Defender of the Year, helping San Diego Wave FC win the NWSL Shield as regular season champions, defender Naomi Girma has been voted the 2023 U.S. Soccer Female Player of ...

Who is currently the best women's soccer player in the world? ›

With Alexia Putellas, who topped this list in 2021 and 2022, absent for a large chunk of the year, Bonmatí rose to the role of star player for club and country. She guided Barcelona to a league title and a Champions League victory, and was the driving force behind Spain's historic World Cup triumph.

Who is the 18 year old on the US women's national team? ›

Thompson was added to the USA roster prior to the April 11 match in St. Louis following a major injury to Mallory Swanson. Thompson went on to start that match and in just her third cap at the age of 18, became the youngest player to start a game for the USWNT since 2016.

Who is the best player on USA soccer team? ›

This is Pulisic's fourth U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award after winning in 2017, 2019 and 2021, tying Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) for the all-time record.

Who are the top 5 women's soccer? ›

Leading women's national soccer teams worldwide as of March 2024, by FIFA ranking
CharacteristicFIFA ranking position
United States4
9 more rows
Apr 15, 2024

Who is the oldest player on the USWNT? ›

At 38 years old, Megan Rapinoe will be the oldest player on the USWNT roster, and she will accordingly play a reduced role off the bench.

Who is better Alex Morgan or Rapinoe? ›

Alex Morgan moved into the top 10 in U.S. women's national team history in assists in 2023, while Megan Rapinoe ends her career at No. 3. Check out the full leaderboard, which also features Tobin Heath and Christen Press.

Who is number 4 on USWNT? ›

Naomi Girma

Who is the best female soccer player in the world 2024? ›

Her exploits on the field in recent times have earned Bonmati the three most important individual honours in football — the UEFA Women's Player of the Year, the Best FIFA Women's Player and the Ballon d'Or Feminin (all in 2023). The Spanish midfielder is, by far, the best female football player in 2024.

Who is the top female soccer club? ›

From 2012 to 2021, the IFFHS crowned each year the Women's World Best Club (Olympique Lyonnais won 7 times, VFL Wolfsburg 2 times, FC Barcelona 1 time). Since 2022 and the Club World Ranking (calculation system determined by IFFHS ), FC Barcelona dominates the World ranking.

Who is the youngest person on the USWNT? ›

Alyssa Thompson is the youngest player suiting up for the US Women's National Team at the World Cup. The 18-year-old forward is the first teenager since 1995 to make an American World Cup roster. Thompson spoke to Insider about her rapid rise to stardom ahead of her World Cup debut.

Who is the 16 year old female soccer player? ›

Casey Phair was 16 years and 26 days old when she stepped onto the field for South Korea for the first time. It was July 25, 2023, and South Korea was playing its Women's World Cup opener against Colombia.

Who is the 17 year old on the US women's soccer team? ›

Alyssa Paola Thompson (born November 7, 2004) is an American professional soccer player who plays as a forward for Angel City FC of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and the United States women's national team. She was named Gatorade Player of the Year in 2021.

Who is the 17 year old women's soccer player? ›

Alyssa Thompson made her USWNT debut aged just 17.

Who is the highest paid womens soccer player 2023? ›

Leading women's soccer players worldwide 2023, by annual earnings. As of 2023, Alex Morgan was the highest-paid female soccer player in the world, earning an estimated 7.1 million U.S. dollars a year. While this was a significant amount, it represented only a fraction of what leading male soccer players earn.

Who has the most goals in US women's soccer? ›

Most goals in USWNT history
  • Abby Wambach, 184.
  • Mia Hamm, 158.
  • Carli Lloyd, 134.
  • Kristine Lilly, 130.
  • Alex Morgan, 123.
  • Michelle Akers, 107.
  • Tiffeny Milbrett, 100.
  • Cindy Parlow Cone, 75.

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